Monday, November 5, 2012

Stand Up Guys

Stand Up Guys, from Lionsgate, screened at the 35th Starz Denver Film Festival Sunday and is pure entertainment. There are under lying themes of family, friendship, love, loyalty and living by a code - whatever that code may be - but in the end this is laugh-out-loud funny and entertaining.

The film stars Al Pacino (can Pacino get any scruffier looking) as Val, Christopher Walken as Doc and Alan Arkin as Hirsch, three aging ‘bad guys’ who through a series of circumstances are reunited for a night of shoot-outs, robberies, car-theft, car-chases, debauchery (Pacino’s character consumes an entire bottle of Viagra, which a brothel madam calls ‘boner pills’) and Galahad-like chivalry.

These are three terrific actors - though I am happy to see Walken play a bit understated instead of his often over the top performances, which he demonstrated in the opening night film, The Last Quartet - and they are what make this film so enjoyable. It received a very enthusiastic response from the audience when I saw it Sunday night.

Val has just been released from prison, after 28 years, for a crime he likely did not commit, but, as he says, he served his time and kept his mouth shut.

He is picked up outside the prison gate by his long-time friend, Doc, who it turns out is being pressured to kill Val. Doc has until 10 AM the following morning to accomplish this or suffer some very dire consequences. Will he? Won’t he? You have to get to the end of the picture to find out.

Val says he wants to party (he has been in prison for 28 years after all) and so they do, though Doc, somewhat reluctantly.

There is a wonderful scene in a disco (do they still call those kind of clubs discos?) in which Pacino pays the DJ to play a slow song (“oh, one of those old time songs”) and persuades an attractive young woman to dance with him. It is so reminiscent of the tango scene in Scent of a Woman as Pacino (Val) gracefully swings the young woman out onto the dance floor.

The film evolves over the next few cinematic hours as Val and Doc hook up with Hirsch (rescuing him from a nursing home), make a return trip to a brothel, the car-theft and car chase, etc.

I had been excited when I learned that film was to play at this year’s Film Festival, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it. There is a necessary willing suspension of disbelief with this film but don’t worry about making sense of any seeming unrealities, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Stand Up Guys is not scheduled for another screening at the Film Festival however it will open nationwide in January of 2013. It had its premiere at the Chicago Film Festival a couple of weeks ago and is slated for an Oscar qualifying run in Los Angeles and Manhattan in December.

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